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Business leaders hear from candidates

State representative District 10 incumbent Norma Smith, R-Clinton, shares a laugh with her challenger, Aaron Simpson, D-Langley, at a candidate luncheon. - Justin Burnett / The Record
State representative District 10 incumbent Norma Smith, R-Clinton, shares a laugh with her challenger, Aaron Simpson, D-Langley, at a candidate luncheon.
— image credit: Justin Burnett / The Record

Candidates for state and local races gave their pitches to the business communities on North and South Whidbey this week.

The Freeland Chamber of Commerce held its candidate forum and luncheon at the Useless Bay Golf & Country Club. An estimated 45 strong people attended.

“That’s an unusual crowd,” said Leanne Finlay, a member of the chamber’s board of directors. “I think people were really interested to hear the candidates. Or they love the chamber.”

Narrow in scope, the forum hosted just Helen Price Johnson and Jeff Lauderdale for the position 1 Island County commissioner race. The candidates were quizzed with questions that ranged from the state of the county and their plans to improve its financial position to the need for additional focus on economic development.

The meeting did see some fireworks, particularly when the subject of sewers came up, but most of the discussion revolved around the economy.

Overall, Finlay said she thought the meeting saw meaningful discussion and was a benefit to South Whidbey voters.

“It went really well,” she said.

The Oak Harbor Chamber of Commerce held its annual candidate luncheon Thursday at the Elks Lodge. The event saw a healthy crowd who heard from candidates running for a variety of open offices.

With seven candidates from four different races all crammed in over a lunch hour, each was allowed just three minutes to speak and take a question or two from the crowd. Most didn’t have time to delve into details, instead talking about their backgrounds and hitting broad objectives.

But for many in the crowd, a quick glimpse was enough. It’s not just what candidates say, but also how they say it that matters, said Helen Chatfield-Weeks, an Oak Harbor resident.

Al Koetje, a longtime former mayor for Oak Harbor, was also present at the luncheon and agrees that despite their shortcomings, political forums play a powerful role in the decision-making process of voters.

 

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